What We’re Reading

Realtor fees:

Even though there are plenty of sites, like Zillow and Redfin, which offer home-buyers in America the chance to search for properties, commission rates for real-estate brokers have not fallen much, staying close to 6% (3% for the buyer’s agent, 3% for the seller’s). Americans pay twice as much as people in most other developed markets, where similar sites have done much to depress residential-property transaction fees.

Debt and independence:

Parents and children alike talk about how educational debt hangs over their futures, impinging on both daily choices and long-term ambitions. In the eighties, more than half of American twentysomethings were financially independent. In the past decade, nearly seventy per cent of young adults in their twenties have received money from their parents. The risk is collective, and the consequences are shared across generations. At times, “Indebted” reads like an ethnography of a dwindling way of life, an elegy for families who still abide by the fantasy that thrift and hard work will be enough to secure the American Dream.

Tail risk:

By 2008, I’d spent over a decade developing derivatives and trading strategies, most of them successful. And I was successful too, not for any ability to forecast the future, but simply for being careful and logical and systematic. Basically Wall Street rewarded me for doing the sorts of things I’d hoped to do in physics; the only difference was that I now applied probability theory to markets rather than quantum mechanics.

But until 2008, I’d never really experienced the extreme tail of a probability distribution firsthand. And that experience disabused me of more than one illusion.


… by midcentury more people will die from superbug infections than from cancer and diabetes combined.

Podcast economics:

Take a look at Joe Rogan, who currently has the most popular talk show podcast with over 200 million downloads per month. This number comes from Joe himself¹, but let’s assume he was exaggerating and it’s only 100 million downloads per month.

Assuming he sells ads at a low $18 CPM (cost per thousand listeners) and sells out his ad spots, he’s making approximately $64mm in annual revenue. If he’s on the higher end, at $50 CPM, he could be making as much as $240mm per year². The only factor that would change this is how many free ads Joe gives to companies that he has a personal equity stake in (like Onnit, the supplement brand he co-owns).

Have a good weekend.